The Wofford Terriers deserve an at-large berth. They can remove all doubt by taking care of business in the Southern Conference Tournament, but it really shouldn’t come down to that anyway. The Terriers went 18-0 in conference play and are favored to run that number to 21-0 here.
This is a feisty conference, though. It is a very top-heavy conference, as only four of the 10 members posted a winning record in SoCon play. The US Cellular Center in Asheville will be the backdrop for this conference tournament and this should be one of the better conference tournaments this week.
Odds are courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Here are the 10 teams in the SoCon Tournament field:
- Wofford 26-4 (18-0) (-125)
- UNC Greensboro 26-5 (15-3) (+640)
- Furman 24-6 (13-5) – record vs. UNC Greensboro (+260)
- East Tennessee State 23-8 (13-5) (+450)
- Chattanooga 12-19 (7-11) (+12500)
- Mercer 11-19 (6-12) – H2H tiebreaker (+12500)
- Samford 16-15 (6-12) (+6600)
- VMI 10-20 (4-14) – H2H tiebreaker (+50000)
- Western Carolina 7-24 (4-14) – H2H tiebreaker (+35000)
- The Citadel 12-17 (4-14) (+25000)
Top. Heavy. The top teams also posted excellent overall records in the regular season. Wofford went 18-0, but there were some scares. Samford and East Tennessee State took the Terriers to overtime. Overall, though, that was really it. After the OT win on February 7 over ETSU, Wofford won its remaining games by 17, 11, 30, 8, 26, and 21. The 30-point win was over UNC Greensboro.
Here is the schedule for the SoCon Conference Tournament:
Friday March 8
5 p.m. ET: 8 VMI vs. 9 Western Carolina
7:30 p.m. ET: 7 Samford vs. 10 The Citadel
Saturday March 9
12 p.m. ET: 1 Wofford vs. 8/9 winner
2:30 p.m. ET: 4 ETSU vs. 5 Chattanooga
6 p.m. ET: 2 UNC Greensboro vs. 7/10 winner
8:30 p.m. ET: 3 Furman vs. 6 Mercer
Sunday March 10
4 p.m. ET: 1/8/9 winner vs. 4/5 winner
6:30 p.m. ET: 2/7/10 winner vs. 3/6 winner
Monday March 11
7 p.m. ET: 1/8/9/4/5 winner vs. 2/7/10/3/6 winner
Furman was the only conference member to play two games in single digits against Wofford. The Paladins lost by five on the road and by eight at home. Wofford was down 21-20 and never trailed after taking a 22-21 lead in the second meeting, so the game really wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.
UNC Greensboro, who lost by 29 in the first meeting and 30 in the second meeting against Wofford, played pretty well against everybody else, including two wins over ETSU and Mercer. The other loss came against Furman, as the teams traded 10-point victories.
The bottom feeders in this conference are the ones that push the pace the most. All three teams with 14 conference losses rank in the top four in pace. Because better teams usually dictate the pace, that seems like less of a worry for teams as they get ready for the back-to-back or back-to-back-to-back format.
From the futures odds that we have out there, Furman is the second favorite, and deservedly so, but the only team that really has a chance to beat Wofford because the Paladins are the best defensive team in the conference and also rank third offensively. UNC Greensboro is a good defensive team, but only managed 93 points in two games against Wofford. Even Furman was held to 118. ETSU did have 76 points and took Wofford to overtime, so that could be a tricky semifinal game against a strong coach in Steve Forbes.
You could always just take Wofford at two units to win the conference tournament and then decide if you want to hedge a little bit in the semis or the finals. Wofford wasn’t as dominant as a team like Gonzaga in conference play, but still holds the keys and occupies the driver’s seat until somebody takes a huge step forward.
Because ETSU has a fairly easy 4/5 game before playing Wofford, the Buccaneers are interesting, but there is no point in taking a +450 because they’ll be around that on the money line in that game and then you can roll that over to the game against either Furman or UNC Greensboro for a far superior payout.